Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening Act

I just returned from a week in Big Bend. It was a very good week. I had a little bit of everything- sun, clouds, wind, calm, full moon, stars, a few flowers, cactus, javelina, bobcats, etc.

My first day in the Bend was a splendid one where I got to visit Marathon, Alpine, Marfa, and Presidio. After an early supper in Presidio I drove down the river road into Big Bend Ranch State Park. Somehow I was just drawn to watching sunset on the Big Hill. I arrived late in the day, grabbed all my gear and scrambled to the top.

I no sooner got my tripod set up on the edge of the drop into the canyon below when the sun popped below the clouds and lit up the scene like you always hope it does. The view from here is big and stretches from the river below to the distant Chisos. The light was incredible. I was practically jumping for joy-note jumping on the edge of the Big Hill is not a good idea :-).

I made a couple of quick images with the 4x5 and then had to stop and get this image. I am not sure if you can tell from this angle but about 1 foot to the right of my tripod is a several hundred foot drop into the Rio Grande. The light was amazing and I was moving back and forth from one camera to the other. 4x5, SLR, 4x5- it was a lot of activity in a short time on a small ledge. But it was a good day and so I photographed with abandon.

It was quite an opening act and it was only day one! Even better was after the great direct light faded the light show would begin in the other direction as the sky would fill with orange and red. By the time the evening was over I made my way down the hill with several sheets of film in the done box and dozens of images on my memory card.

What a way to end the first day, there would be several more to come. I am always amazed at the glory of the Big Bend country. Today was no exception.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The End of Winter

Today is the Vernal Equinox, also known as the first day of spring. So by the sun it is now spring in the northern hemisphere.

Except it has been spring for several weeks here in Texas. Winter is a very short season here. Our fall color starts at Thanksgiving and ends right before Christmas. Winter is really from Christmas until about the Super Bowl. By that time we are already getting dandelions.

Understand we can still get a cold snap, snow, or more likely an ice day, but we are already having warm days. The trees are budding and flowering by the end of February. The Bradford pears have already blossomed and we are at the edge of the bluebonnets making their annual appearance.

This is my parting shot to winter. It was a few weeks ago, back on the river. It was a typical late winter day here-in the 50's. The trees are still bare but spring is soon to be busting out.

So long winter. Hello spring.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Feed Store

I was in Waxahachie, Texas with some friends to photograph the Ellis County courthouse. After catching first light on the old courthouse, we moved down to the the old railroad depot and a neighboring feed store.

I found the feed store the more interesting and decided that the front of the store just said character.

I made the image in color but I believe that it might work best as a b+w. I'll have to see what the chrome looks like and what I can do once I scan it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Old Pen

An old pen in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The maze of old cattle pens in the Fort Worth Stockyards are full of history and suprises. The is no telling what you might find. From old ironwork, to horseshoes, to sunflowers.

This view is of an old trough, a builing with scale to weigh the incoming cattle, and the rodeo arena in the back.

This is a great place to be with an old camera and is perfect for black and white. There is still a daily cattle drive and even a actor troupe that appears in period costumes to interact with folks along Exchange Avenue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

At the X-6 Pen

I was out in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards a few weekends ago. The old pens and history of the Stockyards have always been a local favorite and mine too. The old buildings. The old pens. The ruins of the old meat plants. The worn wood, old iron, the railroad tracks. The rodeo arena, barns, and the smell of cattle.

Most of the cattle now go to market elsewhere and even the Stock Exchange is mostly done view the web. There are quite a few famous bars, eateries, and honky tonks in the Stockyards these days. Still quite a few of the old pens and barns are still around. The City of Fort Worth even keeps a herd of longhorns that it does a daily cattle drive with. So it is still a neat place and it also has enough to draw the interest of a photographer.

Here is an area of the pens. In fact it is the X-6 pen. I watched the sunrise here one clear morning. The maze of pens goes away into the distance. The old cat walk is visible in the upper part of the picture.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

RR Crossing

Fort Worth may be aptly called Cowtown, but it is also very much a railroad town. Tracks crisscross the area heading all directions. The cattle may have been the reason the railroads showed up but the agriculture and industry of today still keep them busy. The are has many old trestles and bridges that make a wonderful subject to turn the camera on.

Despite their obvious hand of man they also seem to just fit into the area. Railroads might be a sign of industry but almost seem historic (despite how vital they are in commerce) and like they belong with the land.

Here is a simple railroad crossing west of town. It itself it is as ordinary as the come. With the right light, clouds, powerlines, and rolling grass backdrop it somehow becomes even more remote and lonely than it actually is.

This could be Texas, Kansas, or Wyoming. The typical scene of the American Great Plains.

A little found scenic of the west.

Friday, March 7, 2008

County Road

Sunrise on an old County Road west of town.

The orange light in the sky was getting brighter as I stood on the side of an old road. The light was shining off the the blacktop and the telephone poles were silhouetted against the clouds. It was a rather typical county road and it looked great in this light.

Being early on a Sunday morning on a cool day, I did not expect much in the way of traffic, so I felt safe on the edge of the shoulder. It was dark enough to not need the darkcloth and I was able to focus with just the loupe. That made me feel even a bit safer as that was less of a distraction. But I saw no cars and made the image.

Sometimes you have to drive for hours and sometimes you can find pretty neat stuff right close to your hometown. This was one of those mornings where the ordinary became a nice picture.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Texas Winter Sunrise

After a few weeks in the north woods I came home to a Texas winter. That means 40 at dawn and 65+ in the daytime. Quite a contrast to Wisconsin.

I was out along a farm road west of Cowtown and saw a bit of a sunrise. Decided to make image in the tall grass.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Looking South

After two fun and snow filled weeks in the north woods it is time to go south. I know this series of posts went for longer than two weeks, but I just got out enough to get a lot of images and it took me a while to post them all.

I enjoyed the change of pace, temp, and, actually seeing snow. It is now back to a Texas winter where the temp may be 38 at dawn but it is 65 and sunny in the afternoon.

On my last few days in Wisconsin, I went back to some of my old favorite places in the marsh. With a temp in the high teens it was almost a heat wave compared to what it had been. I wandered around looking for the right location and the right image. I found a large clump of cattails and reeds rising above the ice. There were rocks from marsh edge that ran away along the show. The bluffs were in the distance. The sky was gray and overcast. I thought it all looked about right. I used those as my compositional elements and framed the image looking south down the river.

Down river there was no ice. There was no snow. There was none of this. The river flows south and it was about time for me to go south. South to home, to family, and to the thought of the rapidly approaching spring in the desert.